1. Densetsu

    OP Densetsu Pubic Ninja
    Former Staff

    Joined:
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    UPDATE: Since many of you contribute so many excellent resources, I've decided to stop adding everything to the first post, or it would quickly become a jumbled mess of links. Instead, if any of you are interested in the resources that are shared on this thread, simply "Watch" this thread so you'll receive a notification every time a post is made here. Then you can check out the contributed resources yourself and decide for yourself if you want to use/save/bookmark it. As much as I would love to add your resources, I think this is the most practical way to go. Thanks for understanding!​

    [​IMG]

    In loving memory of Densetsu.

    Introduction (前書き)
    I've seen quite a few questions on this forum asking how to go about learning Japanese. For native English speakers, Japanese is widely regarded as the most difficult language to learn (though I think that's up for debate). With a grammatical structure and writing system that developed completely independently of any of the Germanic or Romance languages, it can seem a daunting task figuring out just how to begin tackling the mystical language of the ninja. And yet, with so much cool stuff coming out of Japan, the rewards of mastering this language are myriad. For this reason, I started thinking about putting together a list of resources and providing some advice to anyone interested.

    I would like to see this evolve into a place where people can post questions about Japanese grammar, specific translation questions (NOT translation requests), or just general questions about the Japanese language and the process of studying/learning it. I urge other members who are more proficient than I am can contribute their knowledge to help others on this thread. I hope to have a little bit of something here for every level from beginners to advanced learners.

    If you have an idea for this FAQ, I'm open to comments, suggestions and constructive criticism. I'll do my best to accommodate all requests, as long as it's a serious request.
    I started out just like any aspiring Japanese language learner might--I was exposed to anime, manga and Japanese food by friends throughout my adolescent and teen years. I didn't actually start learning Japanese until I started university, however. Before that, I had pretty much zero knowledge in the language. I studied it in university for 4 years, and graduated with a minor in the Japanese language. I would have majored in it, but at the time my university's Japanese Language Department was nowhere near as large as it is now and they didn't offer a major in Japanese until recently. After graduating from university, I moved to Japan where I lived and worked for 3 years.

    I lived in a really small town out in the Japanese countryside, and it was not foreigner-friendly. I say that in the sense that it wasn't geared towards tourism and foreigners; the people were extremely friendly to me, but they spoke absolutely no English. Everything was in Japanese and there was no English to be found. All the restaurants in my town were little mom-and-pop businesses with handwritten menus in kanji and no pictures. My job required me to interact with coworkers in Japanese, talk on the phone in Japanese, read memos in Japanese, etc. I soon realized that if I didn't learn to read, and do it quickly, I wouldn't last in this little town. Sure, I had a minor in Japanese, but prior to graduating from university I originally had no intentions of ever living in Japan so I never took my studies as seriously as I should have (it's a long story how I ended up in Japan--if you're curious just PM me). So I basically had to learn everything over again (and even unlearn a lot things since normal, spoken Japanese is nothing like textbook Japanese).

    The only English exposure I had in this kind of environment was when I went home and surfed the Internet. I listened to the radio in Japanese while driving (not to mention reading street signs in Japanese in order to navigate), I watched Japanese TV, and made Japanese friends. I also made friends with non-Japanese people from other countries (Taiwan, Brazil, Italy, etc.), and our only common language was Japanese. Needless to say, I learned Japanese very fast in this environment. I kind of had no choice--it was sink or swim. In fact, I learned more Japanese in my first 3 months in Japan than I did in 4 years of undergraduate study.

    In addition to passively absorbing Japanese through constant immersion, during my first year in Japan I took an intermediate Japanese correspondence course, and concurrently signed up for a beginning Japanese course in the evenings with an actual instructor as a refresher. After completing both courses, I took Level 3 (now called N4) of the JLPT. In the summer of that year (after having lived in Japan for a year), my contracting organization sent me to an intense Japanese language course for six weeks at the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute in Kansai. I wasn't allowed to speak English the entire time :unsure:

    Within a year I started translating correspondence where I was employed, and within two years I was doing translation projects for the municipal city hall (local government translations). It was around this time I was also doing an advanced Japanese correspondence course, and independently studying for Level 2 (now called N2) of the JLPT. I also picked up Japanese calligraphy and started writing haiku in Japanese.

    I still wouldn't call myself a "professional" translator per se, but I was involved in some professional translations. The only Japanese certification I have is that I've passed Level 1 (N1) of the JLPT (I took it a year after I took Level 2, during my 3rd year of living in Japan).

    Although I don't live in Japan anymore, I do a number of things to keep up my Japanese. I keep in touch with Japanese friends via e-mail. I read manga only in the original Japanese. I read novels in Japanese as well, but I'll talk about that in a section of my guide below. Every once in a while I watch Japanese clips on YouTube and sometimes stream Japanese radio. I play a lot of Japanese games on the DS and on the PS3 (I created a Japanese PSN account to download Japanese demos). Currently I'm a medical student and I am a volunteer medical translator at the hospital. So lately (for the past year) I have been focusing my Japanese study efforts on learning clinical jargon.

    That all said, I still have a hard time calling myself "fluent" in Japanese even though I can certainly get by, and even thrive in Japan with my language ability. I'm sure there are 'Tempers around here who are much more proficient than I am, but I hope this thread can bring the lurkers out of the woodworks to share their wisdom.

    In total, I have been learning Japanese for 15 years, and I continue to study it. With this thread, I'll be sharing any tips, tricks and websites I picked up (and continue to pick up) along the way. I will also include tips shared by others in this topic. My hope is that this thread can attract some aspiring learners (as well as masters) of the language of ninjas, and generate more interest in the language.
    I can think of many good reasons to learn Japanese, but I'll focus on the reasons that pertain to the interests of this community.
    1. Manga: This requires little explanation, but there are a couple points to be noted here. Although scanlation groups are pretty fast and accurate about translating manga and making it available to the rest of the world, there are just some things that can't be translated. The Japanese are big on puns, kanji-play and pop culture references, and frequently use them in manga. Some scanlation groups are good about putting little translation notes in the margins, but most groups don't bother. The only way to catch all the little nuances that are lost in translation is to read the manga in its purest form, the way it was intended to be read in Japanese.
    2. Anime: The audio equivalent of reading manga. Another thing to note is that regardless of what anyone might tell you, learning Japanese simply by watching subbed anime isn't the most efficient way to do it. Again, a lot is lost in translation, and many references and puns would be impossible to translate anyway.
    3. Video Games:
      Q: What's more awesome than playing a game on its release date in the West?
      A: Playing it when it's released in Japan, that's what!
      Let's face it. If gaming is a big part of your life and you had to learn another language, then Japanese would be the language to learn, hands-down. Games are almost always released in Japan first, and unless you know Japanese, you have to wait for months or years for an English release. And in some unfortunate cases, sometimes the game will never be released outside of Japan. Then you're at the mercy of translation patches. Many are poorly done, and most never get finished, so you just end up disappointed. If you can read Japanese, this would be a non-issue. Knowing Japanese opens up an entire new library of games to you to which others just wouldn't have access. You can also check out gaming news before it's translated into English, watch Tatsumi Kimishima's (RIP Satoru Iwata) keynote speeches in real time without requiring subtitles, and as a result you'll have an edge over other 'Tempers if you enjoy being the first to post gaming news on GBAtemp. The possibilities are endless.
    4. Translating ROMs:
      Of course this is a long-term goal, but even the best translators have to start from zero. The problem with translating is that anyone can call themselves a "translator." But very few "translators" actually have the skill to back up their claim. Most "translators" are just using Google Translate or some other online machine translator, which yields sub-par translation patches. You should call yourself a "translator" only if you can [1] read Japanese on your own (such as an image), and [2] can come up with an equivalent English sentence (or other target language) that makes sense to your target audience. You can only do this by studying Japanese; there are no shortcuts to acquiring this skill.
    Beginner (初級)

    1. Enable Japanese text input on your PC. It's understandable that when you first start learning Japanese, you're going to have to use Romaji, though you're going to want to leave that crutch right away. In order to see kana and kanji displayed correctly on your screen, you're going to have to set up Japanese input on your PC. I won't go into depth here because there are tons of guides online on how to do this, but here's one I've found that explains it pretty well. Assuming you're on Windows 7, you can follow these steps.
    2. Install rikaichan (for Firefox) or rikaikun (for Chrome). This is arguably the most awesome browser plugin ever created for reading/studying Japanese. When you enable this plugin, all you have to do is hover your mouse over a Japanese word on any website and it will show you how to read it as well as its definition in English. You have to learn how to read kana before you can use it, though. It only shows you the kanji pronunciations in kana; there is no Romaji mode. I prefer rikaichan over rikaikun because rikaikun lacks some of the cool features that are available in rikaichan. For example, rikaichan has a hotkey that you can press to instantly add any Japanese word (including the kanji, pronunciation and definition, all separated by tabs) to a text file that you designate. This feature allows you to easily create word banks that you can go back and study later. The tab separation helps with incorporating the words into your favorite flashcard program.
    3. Now you have to take the first real step: Learn to read kana. There are two sets of kana: hiragana and katakana. There are 46 characters in each set, and you can learn them in a weekend or two using flashcards (here are some pre-made ones you can print and cut out). Audio of the pronunciations can be found here. You only need to be concerned with the blue squares (sei-on) at this point. Google translate also works for listening to pronunciations (click the little speaker icon to hear it--disregard the English "translation" on the right).
      Learn hiragana first, using flashcards. Katakana is used when writing a foreign word in Japanese, such as a non-Japanese person's name, or an English word that's been imported into the Japanese language like "game" (ゲーム). You can drill those using flashcards the same way you learn hiragana, but for now I would say to just learn them as you encounter them.
    4. After you have a functional knowledge of kana, start reading simple Japanese sentences. Read them in Romaji at first, then try rewriting them using the kana that you know. And when I say "simple sentences," I mean really simple. Don't try to overwhelm yourself. Just start with the basics, like:
      Good morning. = Ohayou gozaimasu. = おはよう ございます。
      Hello. = Konnichiwa. = こんにちは。
      This is a pen. = Kore wa pen desu. = これ は ペン です。
    5. Most importantly, get yourself a good, basic Japanese textbook and go through it! I cannot stress this enough. A lot of "self-study" people overlook this step. Sure, they download 1.5TB of Japanese video, audio, manga, textbooks in PDF, etc., but they just contract the same pirate fever as everyone else who owns every game ISO and has never played a single one of them. BUY a legit textbook (and the accompanying workbook if it has one). And when I say BUY a legit textbook, I mean actually spend money (gasp!) as opposed to...ahem--obtaining them the way some of you probably obtain your games. My reason for this is more pragmatic and has nothing to do with my views on pirating. Once you invest in a textbook, you feel more obligated to use it since you paid for it. And no digital format can beat the feel of a good ol' physical textbook in your hands when it comes to learning. Get one that includes an audio CD for pronunciation. This is especially important for people who aren't taking a formal course and don't have the luxury of an instructor. Read (don't skim) the chapters, rip the CDs and listen to the audio, make flashcards of any new characters/vocabulary/grammar introduced, do all the exercises in the textbook (and the workbook if you have it). Basically, use the hell out of that book.
    6. Practice everything you learn. Use physical flashcards or a flashcard program/app and drill yourself regularly. If you don't use it, you lose it.
    • Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese (Vols. I & II): This 2-volume set seems to be the what's used in universities the most, and the lessons presented in the chapters clearly reflect that; every dialogue involves university students speaking to each other or their professors, and the conversations in each chapter cover things like "going to the movies with friends," "going on a date," "discussing homework," etc. Pros: If you're between the ages of 18-25, the lessons are relevant. In addition to teaching about the language, it has "cultural notes" in every lesson that give more insight into Japan. Learning the culture of a language is just as important as vocabulary and grammar. It comes with an MP3 CD (in the 1st edition, this audio was sold separately as a 6-CD "teacher's set" and cost $300--per volume!; now it's included for free in the 2nd edition). Also has a separate workbook. There is extensive online support for this book, and you can find additional resources on the official Genki website. There is another website that contains more resources, maintained by my alma mater, CSUS. Cons: Focuses on daily situations of a typical university student, so it's not optimal for people who have finished university (or who haven't gone to university).
    • Minna no Nihongo (Japanese for Everyone): This is the one I used when I was living in Japan. Unlike Genki, it's tailored to a more general demographic of adults living in Japan. Pros: This book is all in Japanese, which will force you to learn to read it quickly. It has a supplementary volume that you can refer to for grammatical explanations in English. The supplementary volume is available not only in English, but also in just about every major language (Chinese, Korean, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, etc.), making this series the textbook of choice worldwide. Every chapter is starts with a dialogue in Japanese, followed by a list of new vocab introduced in the dialogue, a list of grammar points introduced in the dialogue, and sample sentences. Cons: The content is there, but to tell you the truth, this book is a bit dry. The presentation of the material is...blah. It's in black and white, and it's bare-bones. If you're just starting out, you're pretty much required to buy the supplemental volume or else you'll be completely lost. And there are CDs for the book, but they're not included. You have to buy them separately, and they're not cheap.
    • Japanese for Busy People: This book is like Minna no Nihongo in that it's tailored to a more general group (as opposed to Genki, which is tailored more for university students). It's well-known, and I've even seen it in the language section of bookstores like Borders (when they were still around) and Barnes & Noble. Pros: N00b-friendly presentation, comes with a kana option or a Romaji option (but I recommend getting the kana version). It includes a CD, and there's a separate workbook (which also includes a CD). It even has a dedicated kana workbook, but personally I don't think you need that. Cons: It's slow-paced--perhaps too slow. Not as much kanji as I would like to see introduced in a textbook. It's not as "academic" as other university textbooks, so it may be lacking a few nit-picky details when it comes to explaining things, but you can easily fill in those gaps by searching online (Tae Wong's grammar guide comes to mind).
    • Beginning Japanese: Your Pathway to Dynamic Language Acquisition: This is a somewhat newer textbook that has been gaining some popularity. Pros: It's in full color, and the historical/cultural information interspersed throughout the text is great. Another thing I like about it is that the book isn't shy about introducing kanji, but it keeps the presentation "n00b-friendly" by placing furigana underneath every single character that appears throughout the text, the key word being underneath (as opposed to furigana appearing above the kanji as it usually does in other texts). This is a key difference because it allows the student to use a sheet of paper to cover the furigana except when the student really needs it. Overall I just like the presentation of the lessons in this book more than the other ones. This series comes with a CD included with the text and you can get a separate workbook. It's the only Japanese textbook series that comes in both hardbound and paperback versions (all the other ones I know of are paperback only). Finally, it has a website that includes translations of the dialogues, additional audio, and other resources. Cons: Being a textbook that was meant to be used in the classroom, some of the exercises in the book involve partnering up with a classmate and practicing the dialogues; however, a partner isn't required because you can just play both roles of "person A" and "person B" on your own. You can preview the contents of the 2nd volume, Intermediate Japanese, here for yourself. The 1st volume looks similar in lesson presentation.
    • Nakama: Honestly I have never used this series. It's the only textbook that I don't own out of the ones I've listed here, so I know very little about it. But I wouldn't recommend this because it's just so damned expensive. I only listed it because it's the other one that's widely used in US universities.
    Here's some additional info on some of these books that I wrote in another post.

    Regardless of which book you go with, the content will be the same. It all comes down to presentation and how much you're willing to pay for a good book. If you get a textbook, try to make sure it comes with a CD (but I guess it's standard now, so you probably don't have to worry about this). Don't buy a textbook if you have to buy the CD separately. Do get the workbook and USE it. And just buy ONE textbook and ONE workbook, and devote yourself to it. Don't go crazy and buy tons of books; you'll look at your stack of books and most likely, you'll just say "screw it."

    If anyone has any questions about Japanese textbooks, post in this thread. I have all the popular ones in my personal Japanese library, and tons of not-as-popular ones. And if I don't have it, chances are I've heard of it and might still know a few things about it (and maybe even know enough about it to decide that it's not worth buying).

    At this stage it's going to be a while before you can get to the point where you can comfortably play games/read manga/watch anime in Japanese. Check the sections below for more information on how to proceed past the beginning stages.

    Hiragana 42: the best guide i've found to learn the Hiragana (in a day!) Its a PDF downloadable book. Just remember you have to learn the Katakana too.

    Hiragana and Katakana Quiz Site: A little dated but works just fine. Does exactly what it says, quizes your kana knowledge.

    Kana Space Invaders Game I really suggest playing this at least once you think you have a good handle on your Kana. Its quick and merciless. It really makes you think. Not only that, its pretty well animated too.

    Anki: An amazing program that will make sure you never forget any vocab.

    JapaneseClass.jp: A free site for vocabulary and kanji (and hiragana & katakana), multi answer quizzes that varies in style. Sometimes you get the meaning in English and have to choose the correct Japanese answer, other times you get the kanji and have to choose the correct hiragana reading. It's all very simple and basic. A good place to start and to maintain what you already know. A beefed up flash card basically. It also have a simple dictionary, and you can even search by drawing the kanji.

    Kanji Converter: I usually use this site to quickly translate kanji into rōmaji, and get the meaning. It's not perfect, but works very well for me. Paste a phrase or a couple of sentenses in the text field, choose "Detailed" and "Rōmaji" (or Hiragana or whatever you want) and you'll get the reading and the meaning of each part of the phrase, word by word.

    Excite online translator: Like Google Translate, but in my opinion slightly better. There are a few things to know how to use it. The left box is where you input your text, and the result is on the right side. The blue button between the text boxes is the "Translate" button. You pick on the top of the writing box if you want to translate from English to Japanese, or vice versa. 英 is for English (英語) and 日 is for Japanese (日本語).
    I recommend only using it from Japanese to English to get a slight idea about what the text is about. It may not translate perfectly, but you'll be able to guess what it's about. You can also use it to check something you've written. If you think you wrote a sentense in Japanese, try to translate it and see if the result looks good. You can catch a few errors that way if you learn how the results look. I'll give a short example here:

    I want to write "I write." and I know that kaku is "to write" and when I do something it's "masu".
    So I try with "Watashi wa kaku masu." (私は書くます。) and get the result "The trout I write.", which doesn't look right at all.
    So I remember that it's "verb + imasu" and try "Watashi wa kaku imasu." (私は書くいます。) and get the result "I write it, I'm here."... better, but still not that great.
    Oh yeah, when a verb ends with u, you often change the u to an i and add masu. I try "Watashi wa kakimasu." (私は書きます。) and get the result "I write it.", and I'm satisfied with that.
    Now the point is rather that you know how to write it from the beginning, and can check for typos this way. Put in a phrase you've written, and if it looks really weird maybe you've made a typo.

    Intermediate (中級)

    Assuming you have learned some basic Japanese (see the section above), you can move on to the intermediate stages. If you have not gone through at least one textbook and more or less retained most of the information from it, you are not ready to progress to the intermediate level. Learn to walk before you run.

    At the intermediate stage, you should be acquiring more and more vocabulary (with a focus on learning the kanji used in those words), memorizing more grammar, and beginning to break out into non-textbook Japanese. The best way to ease into "real" Japanese literature is by reading manga. At this stage this is probably the single most important thing you can do to boost your proficiency.

    Bruce Lee believed that having a strong core would increase the power that the body could output in every movement, and it appears he was right. Reading manga is to Japanese study as working your core is to athletic training. Learning to read manga is the foundation for acquiring a high level of Japanese literacy, and ultimately, speaking fluency. With manga, you learn native spoken grammar (as opposed to awkward textbook grammar), vocabulary and kanji. Even listening comprehension is somewhat improved, because as you acquire more vocabulary and are made aware of the existence of more and more words, you will begin to hear these words in conversation, when you are listening to audio in Japanese, or watching videos in Japanese.

    But one thing you should be careful about is the vocabulary that is used in certain manga, especially period manga (such as Ruroni Kenshin) or fantasy manga (Bleach, Naruto, etc.). Exclaiming "dattebayo" to a native Japanese speaker during a normal conversation will undoubtedly elicit strange looks. Make sure that you read manga for the grammar, and when you come across a word you don't know, don't bother memorizing it if it's not useful to know outside of the context of the manga you're reading. I should note here that I personally know a lot of expatriates who lived (or currently live) in Japan, but only a handful of them ever reached a high level of fluency. With a few exceptions, the thing they all had in common is that they all read Japanese manga when they were learning. Those who never really learned how to speak, never read anything in Japanese outside of their textbooks. Some might argue that all you need to do is get a Japanese girlfriend to learn Japanese, but (1) that's not practical outside of Japan, and (2) you'll end up speaking like a girl, and your girlfriend will never correct you because she thinks it's "cute." So read manga.

    These are the books that I consider the "trifecta" of intermediate Japanese learning. Among these three books, you've got everything covered: grammar, kanji, and vocabulary. The bonus is that these three books will serve you well even in the advanced stages. Get a good intermediate textbook (suggestions to be added in a different section below) and you can have a solid library in just 4 books.
    • Japanese the Manga Way: An excellent book with a focus on the grammar that is used in real manga, and by extension, grammar that is used in everyday spoken Japanese. I have bought this book 4 times because I keep giving my copies away to friends who are learning Japanese--that's how essential I think it is. Everyone should have this in their library if they're serious about progressing from intermediate to advanced level. Find a manga you enjoy, and while reading it, keep this book on hand along with a good basic Japanese-English dictionary.
    • The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary: This book will teach you everything you need to know about kanji. It explains radicals, the importance of stroke order, kanji frequency, how to look up kanji in a dictionary via the SKIP method, and of course, it contains more than enough kanji to keep you busy for a while. There are more hardcore kanji dictionaries out there than this one, but those are big, hardcover, bulky tomes. This is compact, light, and packs a lot of information without being cluttered. The presentation is easy on the eyes, and it's overall one of the most user-friendly kanji dictionaries out there, which also makes it one of the most popular.
    • Kodansha's Furigana Japanese Dictionary: Of all the physical dictionaries I own, I've found this one to give me the biggest bang for my buck. This book contains absolutely no Romaji, so you have to be comfortable with kana before using this. I wrote more about it in this post. It has the same small form factor as The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary, so it's easy to take with you anywhere. This book retails for USD $60 (the price I paid for it 12 years ago), and in the link above it's $37 at the time of this writing. At that price, it's a steal.
    I rave about Japanese the Manga Way because it's a great supplemental grammar book to your intermediate textbook, it contains useful, real-world grammar (as opposed to textbook grammar), and it's cheap. But Manga Way is more useful for spoken Japanese grammar. The following three books take a more "academic" approach and are useful for spoken grammar, written grammar, formal grammar, literary grammar, and all the other written/spoken styles you'd encounter in Japanese. These were indispensable when I was studying for the JLPT. If you want to expand your fluency beyond video games, anime and manga, these come highly recommended. They are a little pricey, but are by far the best Japanese grammar dictionaries you can find in English. Well worth the investment and worthy of a special place in your personal Japanese library. I still find myself going back to the Advanced and Intermediatevolumes to look up certain grammar points on the odd occasion I read something in Japanese.
    • A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar: This book is actually good for beginners, as well. It has entries for every grammar point you'll encounter in your first 1-2 years of Japanese, and then some. For each entry, it gives the English definition and a few example sentences showing its usage, in Japanese (kanji and Romaji) and in English. It goes further to explain the grammar in detail (without being too technical), and it even shows sentences in which beginners might misuse the grammar point, then explain why it's wrong (and offer a correct way to say the wrong sentence). If you're studying for the JLPT, this will serve you well for N5 and N4.
    • A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar: This book is structured in an identical manner to the first book, and contains more sophisticated grammar that you'll encounter in your first 2-3 years of Japanese. Unlike the Basic volume, it doesn't use any Romaji. Instead, it shows all example Japanese sentences with furigana above the kanji. For JLPT, this book is great for N4 and N3.
    • A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar: Structured just like the previous two books, this contains grammar that you'd find beyond your 3rd year of Japanese, and is particularly useful for JLPT levels N2 and N1.
    • Kanji Alive: One of the better kanji resources I have found online. It features animated stroke order diagrams, readings, definitions, kanji reference numbers for two of the most popular kanji dictionaries (Kodansha and Nelson), radicals (including the evolution from pictograph to its current form), and hints/mnemonics to help you remember each kanji. It even has audio for all of the examples (male and female voices), custom links to Kenkyusha's excellent online J/E dictionary for additional and more complex examples and the option to view the target kanji in different fonts (kyokashotai, mincho, gothic and gothic-maru). The kanji search options and the way kanji in the results can be grouped and sorted by radical make it really versatile. All for free!
    • Erin's Challenge!: An excellent web resource that introduces natural Japanese using video skits of typical real-life situations, including complete scripts in Japanese and English of all spoken dialogue in the videos, manga and even end-of-lesson questions to test your comprehension. Thanks to iluvfuzz for the contribution!
    Coming Soon!

    Memrise

    Intermediate-Advanced (中・上級)
    Now you're really delving deep into the rabbit ninja hole! At this point, you probably have no need for textbooks and should be getting into real literature. At this level of learning, there are very few books that teach in English. From this point on, you have to get used to the idea of learning Japanese--in Japanese.
    Coming Soon!

    Advanced (上級)



    Miscellaneous (その他)

    This section contains stuff that I couldn't really classify into the other sections. Although it's all Japanese language-related, anyone from any proficiency level can check these out.
    • How to Play (and comprehend!) Japanese Games: A very handy guide by DS1 (a.k.a., the Legendary Mahjong Warrior) on how to play Japanese games without actually having to know much Japanese. It's a different philosophy and approach to Japanese games from what I offer here, but it's definitely worth a look.
    • Nihongo Resources: This website explains grammar, particles, counters, and contains some other useful information. It even includes a free PDF of the entire contents of the website in book format. The PDF is bare-bones, but the explanations are decent, and hey, it's free! (thanks vbkun!)
     
    Last edited by Issac, Aug 25, 2016
  2. machomuu

    machomuu Drops by occasionally
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    I have a question. If you want to say something like "The Legend of Moon Reader" would it be said "Densetsu no Tsukuyomi" or "Tsukuyomi no Densetsu"?
     
  3. Schlupi

    Schlupi Gbatemp's Official Earthbound Maniac™
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    It would be "Densetsu no Tsukuyomi".
     
  4. Densetsu

    OP Densetsu Pubic Ninja
    Former Staff

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    The second one is correct (Tsukiyomi no Densetsu).

    The first one (Densetsu no Tsukiyomi) means "Legendary Moon Reader"

    *EDIT*
    Check Tae Kim's guide to Japanese grammar for an explanation of how to use "no". Scroll down to where it says "The 「の」 particle." If you still have questions about it, let me know [​IMG]
     
  5. Joe88

    Joe88 [λ]
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    im gonna give Rosetta Stone with Japanese V3 Level 1 a try over the summer
     
    leerpsp likes this.
  6. Schlupi

    Schlupi Gbatemp's Official Earthbound Maniac™
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    Huh. I always thought that it goes the other way around. How strange.

    AH! Right my teacher told me the difference between Legend of and Legendary. I forgot.
     
  7. Densetsu

    OP Densetsu Pubic Ninja
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    I've never used it, but some of my friends have had varying degrees of success with it. I guess it just depends on your level of commitment. Let me know if you need any clarification and I'd be happy to help out. Good luck!
     
  8. Joe88

    Joe88 [λ]
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    yeah some people said its great and others say it sucks

    I only want to hear and understand it
    im not looking into reading, writing, and speaking it
     
  9. The Pi

    The Pi Lurker
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    Looking good so far. [​IMG]

    Learning Japanese is one of my main plans for the summer. *bookmarks*
     
  10. Densetsu

    OP Densetsu Pubic Ninja
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    And completing this guide is one of my main plans for the summer [​IMG] Thanks for bookmarking, it'll give me even more motivation to work on this knowing that others are interested in it.
     
  11. Wabsta

    Wabsta you fight like a dairy farmer
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    It's awesome. I started learning japanese a while ago, and I'm sure this is going to help me!
     
  12. WiiUBricker

    WiiUBricker News Police
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    Densetsu: How many years of studying japanese do you think are sufficient till a middle twenty year old guy can play japanese games without problems?
     
  13. MaxNuker

    MaxNuker GBATemp's Official Shinigami Substitute
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    I started watching anime at the age of 12-13... im 14 years now... one of my future plans ( and i want to learn on the summer, because i have 3 month vacations) and i wanna learn japanese and electric guitar [​IMG]

    i love jrock and jpop... i wanna learn some jrock music riffs... especially the riff from: SuG - Gr8 Story ... its at 1:50 more or less...

    here is the music video for it:
    http://www.jpopasia.com/play/26132/sug/gr8-story.html
     
  14. Ziko

    Ziko GBAtemp Regular
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    Thank you for going through this trouble to set up this guide. I will use it to the fullest. I want to understand the stories of the Japanese games I play plus the news articles as well. But first learning the Kana as well as other things will come soon.

    One reason is because I watch Japanese TV (Super Sentai/Kamen Rider fan) and while I don't have a hard time grasping what's going on since the stories are relatively easy to follow, it can get hectic at times. Another reason is because I own a R4 and play Japanese games with it and have some issues with story/menus, etc. This could take some time.
     
  15. Carl326

    Carl326 Member
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    Just out of interest for someone currently majoring in japanese. How many words do you think is required to be learnt to read say a novel geared towards adults? As of currently I know around 8000ish but I'm finding that I need to look up words in the dictionary every 2 or 3 sentences.
     
  16. machomuu

    machomuu Drops by occasionally
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    Yeah, games, anime, manga, as well as just the mere experience are the reasons I want to learn japanese. Also, I'd really like to play Draglade 2, Rune Factory Oceans, but most of all, Gyakuten Kenji 2 and Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright.
     
  17. Issac

    Issac I
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    Looking forward to see this Tutorial/FAQ/Thingy develop!
    I'm studying, and have been studying, Japanese through email lessons from a japanese man called "Megumi Nanasawa"... Even though Megumi is a woman's name...?

    Anyway. I really recommend his lessons, though they do cost money, but he sends you lessons in understandable engrish, you will do the exercises and mail him back, and he will correct it and give suggestions (and if you fail too much, you will have to redo the lesson) and each third (approximately) lesson, he gives you review exercises not part of the standard lessons (first "class" is 40 lessons + extras, then there is an "advanced class" with 40 more)... I don't remember the price, since I started more than 5 years ago, (and since I've been so busy I've just gotten to lesson 8) but he still answer me when I mail him and even was ok with me restarting after 4 lessons, since I had a break from it all for 3 years [​IMG]
    Highly recommend it, I've learned a lot even though I'm just a simple beginner.
     
  18. Densetsu

    OP Densetsu Pubic Ninja
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    It really depends on how hard you work. I know people who went from zero to near-fluent in 2 years without ever setting foot in Japan. I know others who have lived in Japan for 15 years and can't even order a pizza over the phone. If you're talking about taking typical Japanese courses in high school or a university, I think you'd be able to play a lot of Japanese games without trouble. But if you want to play text-heavy games such as RPGs, you should make it a point to learn as much kanji as possible. The advantage of knowing kanji is that even if you encounter a word that you've never seen before, if you know the individual kanji characters contained in the word, you'll be able to figure out what it means based on context.

    Here's an example of why I find kanji so interesting:
    The Japanese word for "contradiction" is "mujun" (矛盾).

    The kanji are as follows:
    矛 (mu) = hoko = spear
    盾 (jun) = tate = shield

    How did putting "spear" and "shield" together ever come to mean "contradiction?" Well, there's an ancient Chinese story about a merchant who went around claiming to sell a spear that could pierce through anything, and a shield that could block any attack. A wise man asked, "what would happen if you used your spear on your shield?
    When I heard that story, I never forgot what mujun meant ever again.

    Thanks for your support! I will do what I can to help anyone serious about studying Japanese.

    Yeah, that sounds about right. Even now, I still find myself reaching for a dictionary when I'm reading a novel. I "eased" myself into novels by reading the Harry Potter series. I own all of the books in English and Japanese. Some days I would read a chapter in English, then read the same chapter in Japanese. It wasn't so bad because the chapters were short enough to remember for the most part, and when I read the Japanese chapter I could follow along. Other days I would read the Japanese chapter first, then refer to the English chapter only when I couldn't figure out what a sentence meant. I did this for the entire series, and by the time I was done I was able to read through the entire Chronicles of Narnia in Japanese without the help of the English versions. The last novel I read in Japanese was The da Vinci Code. I had to use my Canon Wordtank G70 almost every other sentence. Granted, even the English version had a lot of words that I didn't know [​IMG]

    That sounds pretty awesome! Though the focus of this topic will be to collect and share free online resources for people to study Japanese. Also, I'm willing to answer anyone's grammar questions for free [​IMG]

    Post restored by Issac @ November 22nd 2015
     
    Last edited by Issac, Nov 22, 2015
  19. Seicomart

    Seicomart GBAtemp Regular
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    Good to hear you are still studying Densetsu9000, its been 20 years for me now and I view languages as a life-long study. I used to live in Sapporo and spent a fair bit of time in Tokyo, which I enjoyed far less. Funny how in Japan, the doctors would speak to me in Japanese, then write their notes in German. I'd imagine this has its roots in "Dutch learning" which gave way to "German learning" though could be wrong. I'm lucky in that my wife of 13 years happens to be Japanese.

    There are a number of apps for the Android platform, such as a portable version of Edict which are invaluable, must be some for other platforms too I imagine.

    I have never heard of, or seen anybody get anywhere near "fluent" within 2 years, although naturally for picking up the reading/writing is much easier for Chinese or Koreans who have already learnt their native languages first.
     
  20. Densetsu

    OP Densetsu Pubic Ninja
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    Yeah, it's definitely a life-long commitment...I'll admit that I started learning Japanese at first because I only wanted to understand manga. Also, Japanese wasn't nearly as popular back then as it is now, so it was kind of a unique language to study. But the longer I studied it, the more I realized that there much more compelling reasons to study Japanese than just reading manga or "being cool." I love Sapporo--been there twice for the Yuki Matsuri they hold every February. Oh and the miso ramen...I'll never have ramen that good again [​IMG]

    I have an iPhone, and one of the apps I use for it is Kotoba! It's one of my favorite free Japanese apps.

    Yeah, I try not to use the word "fluent" because it's impossible to gauge fluency, and everyone's standard of fluency is different. The person I know who became "near-fluent" within two years happens to have a photographic memory, can do complex mathematical calculations in his head and can speak a few other languages. He has also worked for the NSA, something to do with network security but he never told me what. When I think of the archetypical genius, he fits the bill perfectly. Most other people I know attained a comfortable level of speaking and comprehension after 4-5 years. It really helps when you have a Japanese girlfriend/boyfriend [​IMG]
     
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